Well, it's officially July 11 in Japan, which means it's been two years since the passing of Nintendo's former president Satoru Iwata. Nintendo fans across the world are still waking up on July 10 and heaving sad sighs over the loss of this incredibly charismatic and innovative executive. Nintendo had never known such forward-thinking leadership until the appointment of Iwata as president, and I doubt that we'll ever see an executive in that role capable of making us smile like Iwata could.
On the anniversary of his death, I think it's important to remember that Iwata's influence is still ongoing, and far-reaching. Iwata was very much a part of the early development of what would eventually become the Nintendo Switch, and he even worked on Pokémon Go while he was ill. Those two things, of course, are still performing incredibly well, and we can't help but wish that Iwata were here to see the success of the Nintendo Switch and how much joy it's bringing to gamers all over the world.
Did you know that Iwata had worked on Pokémon Go and the Nintendo Switch? Did you know that he was also an incredibly talented developer and marvelous coder? There are actually many fascinating things you might not know about Nintendo's most famous president.
He Personally Saved Many Games from Delay or Ruin
I mentioned above that Iwata was a fantastic programmer, and he really was. From a young age he had a passion for coding, and he was seriously gifted. When Earthbound landed in development Hell and was on the brink of caving in on itself, Iwata stepped in, wiped the slate clean, and re-programmed the game from the ground up. He did this with incredible speed, and Earthbound went on to be one of the most influential RPGs of the generation.
There are several stories like this one. Super Smash Bros. Melee only made its release date because of Iwata stepping in and contributing to the development himself. He's also the reason that Pokémon Gold and Silver were able to add the Kanto region to the games, and the reason that you were able to use your Game Boy Pokémon to fight in Pokémon Stadium on the N64. Iwata didn't have any reference material to work with when analyzing and porting over the battle logic to Stadium; he simply studied the source code for Red and Green and then ported it all himself -- in a week.
Nintendo's Most Popular Consoles Released Under His Leadership
I mentioned that Iwata did in fact play a part in the early development of the Nintendo Switch, which might just end up being the most popular Nintendo console ever. Regardless, Iwata did play a huge role in Nintendo's most popular hardware releases. The Nintendo DS and the Wii both released while Iwata was president, and he saw both launches through from conception to realization.
He also started the Nintendo Direct, which we still look forward to several times a year. Nintendo basically gives us a mini E3 every time it hosts a Direct, revealing its most exciting projects and releases to fans directly, and we have Iwata to thank for that concept.
He Took a Huge Salary Cut When the Wii U Tanked
The Wii U did not perform as well as its predecessor, that's no secret, and in the years following the Wii U's downward spiral, Nintendo's earnings were looking awful. Layoffs were inevitable, but Iwata wouldn't tolerate his employees losing their jobs. Instead, he took full responsibility for Nintendo's recent poor performance, and announced that he'd be cutting his own salary in half in order to save jobs.
Everything changed after that. Nintendo as a brand changed after that, and so did our perception of Nintendo as a company. Iwata made a bold symbolic statement that day, and we never forgot it -- neither have his employees.